GR 249. 28. Etappe: Genalguacil - Casares
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1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: Genalguacil connects with the rest of the Serranía de Ronda via the MA-8304 and the MA-8305, which lead towards the Ronda-Algeciras road (A-369). On the other side from Estepona on the Costa del Sol, the MA-8301 goes up to the Puerto de Peñas Blancas. This opens the possibility of connecting with the village from Jubrique or arriving on the MA- 8302 directly. It passes by the village hotel but is still not paved in sections.
Starting point: Mirador de los Poyetes or de la Lomilla, in the southern tip of Genalguacil, very close to the church and at the end of the street Calle Real. There is a car park at the starting point.
Enjoy the walk safely: You will have to cross four or fi ve watercourses but only two of them are of any concern. El Arroyo
de los Zaharames, about half-way into the walk has two makeshift bridges at the lowest point, one of them quite eye-catching as it is made up of one single log. It is up to you whether you prefer to use these bridges or wade through. It is important to stress here that trying to go back at this point of the walk could lead to a serious disappointment. Fortunately, with the fi rst steps of the stage, at km 3.5, you come across the ford across Río Almárchal which is a good indicator of water levels of the day. This permanent river is the biggest watercourse of stage 28 and so it marks the top level of difficulty related to watercourses on the day. If it doesn´t pose any danger, the following streams will not, either.
Los Montes del Duque, and other, less famous areas, manage big game and organise hunts from time to time. The legislation requires that the hunt areas are clearly marked, especially around the GR-249. When there is a hunt on, under no circumstances should you ignore signs and warnings. Hunting and walking in the same area should be able to be compatible, so, on the
one hand you must scrupulously adhere to the sign-posted GR path, and on the other, walk as quietly as possible.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: Casares also connects with the Serranía de Ronda and with the Costa del Sol. If you are coming from inland use the A-7150 which connects with the A-377 (Gaucín-Manilva). The above mentioned road also connects with the Costa del Sol, passing through Manilva, or directly via the MA-8300.
Finish point: Plaza de España, in the centre of Casares. The main streets which end here are the Calle de la Carrera and Calle Juan Cerón.
Possible "escape routes": The only two possibilities are retracing your steps or continuing to the end. For the first option it is best to use the GR or the circular PR (this is a shorter way to Genalguacil) which leads to Puerto del Lentisco. In the fi nal section of the stage, the only recommended way to retrace your steps is to use the GR. At Vega de los Zaharames, there is the possibility to cross the river Genal using a suspended bridge, arrive at Los Pepes, where it is normal to come across people.
Another quite diffi cult option would be to continue to Benarrabá or Gaucín, having walked many kilometres of tracks in a network which requires good knowledge of the intersections.
No return point: At La Vega de los Zaharames you will find yourself at half-way point of the walk which means that it is best to continue from here on, rather than trying to get back. Another key point is the Puerto del Lentisco during the fi rst half of the walk. From this pass, Genalguacil is a stone´s throw away, and this point is highly recommended as an escape route if necessary.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: Fortunately, both Genalguacil and Casares have bet heavily on their network of footpaths, both the offi cially approved ones by the Federación Andaluza de Montaña and the ones sponsored by the towns and other entities.
So far Genalguacil boasts three Senderos de Pequeño Recorrido. The PR A-240 from Benarrabá to Genalguacil connects both villages on the east-west axis, crosses the river Genal via El Prado de la Escribana and coincides with stage 27 of the Gran Senda de Málaga along the Vereda de los Limones. This route becomes circular if you use the Camino de las Cañas which also arrives at las Cruces, close to the centre.
The PR A-241 from Genalguacil to Jubrique is situated north of the village of the starting point and crosses the river which is already familiar to the visitor, the Monardilla. You can also walk there and back, following the signs along the Loma de Benajarón. The PR A-242 from Genalguacil to Los Reales is a long track which turns into a road. It is considered ideal for mountain biking and it partially coincides with our GR for only a few metres at km 1.8, at Puerto de la Loma.
The walk which does coincide with the GR quite a lot is the circular walk of Puerto del Lentisco. Until a fl at area on the mountain slope they coincide entirely as it is evident from the yellow and white path markings. From this point though, which is also the maximum altitude point, the alternative route described above heads direction west again, towards Almárchal along the Loma de Benestepar and returns to Genalguacil using a walk called Vereda de la Cuesta de lo Rozado.
As far as traditional paths and rights of way are concerned, the main “camino tradicional” is the one which leads from Genalguacil to Casares connecting the passes of Lentisco and Las Viñas. These are used almost point by point, except where you walk through Los Montes del Duque. In the middle part of the walk which coincides with the Montes del Duque property there is a triangle of livestock paths between the above-mentioned passes and the area of Pepes and Molino de los Zaharames. The two caminos with destination Benarrabá start here and they separate as they cross the river Genal, on their way to the two mountain passes. Additionally, there are a couple of paths which lead to the famed Baños del Duque, to the west of the route and at the base of Sierra Bermeja. Lastly, there is a path which unites Estepona with Gaucín and ends up at Puerto de los Guardas, having passed through the Monte de La Acedía which forms part of stage 29.
Already in the vicinity of Casares, el Paraje Natural de Sierra Crestellina boasts a walk which leads along the Paraje´s peaks,
called Crestellina Natural. It starts at the road, leads uphill along a partially paved track (the same one which is used by the GR-249 on its way down) and in Puerto de las Viñas heads for a mountain refuge and arrives at Mirador de la Cosalba, direction
south. Then it leads down to the road and completes the circle. This walk is offered by the Casares Town Hall as Ruta Circular
Número 1, sign-posted and marked with informational panels. This walk is joined by another one forming an extensive network which will be described in the next stage where the network shares the natural environment with the GR.